Weekend Reading (4/4-4/5)

By Dave Fratello | April 4th, 2009
This week two of the edgiest real estate agents around got the limelight.

The big time: Leo Nordine got extensive treatment in the April 6 edition of The New Yorker.

Nordine is an LA-area REO specialist who lives nicely in Hermosa and is all over MB and the South Bay all the time. But the article focuses in part on the ugliness of Nordine's work dealing with destroyed properties in marginal neighborhoods, and not a few shady characters.

The ugliness of the mortgage-finance bubble is the backdrop. The opening example: A woman purchased a South Gate home for $170k in 2001 and re-fi'd with New Century in 2006, pulling out $440k before walking.

Nordine's business is built on the volume of foreclosures/REOs in downbeat areas, but he recently worked on an MB property abandoned by a professional athlete. He decided he needed to do more in higher-end areas. "New focus, high end, quality, not quantity," he scribbled on a note pad in the wee hours.

Nordine thinks his time is coming soon for MB. He says:
The foreclosure business goes in waves, and now the next wave is heading west to hit the rich folks in Manhattan Beach. I'm just riding it.
Yikes, is that a threat?

Nordine was featured by the LA Times late last year in this article (still free online), from which MBC culled this quote:
Don't sell unless you absolutely have to. Don't buy until 2010, when prices should be at 2000 levels. And apply every spare nickel to paying off your debt, including mortgages.
As to the feature in The New Yorker, if you don't yet subscribe, we'll recommend you grab a copy at a newsstand (or library!). An online version is available to subscribers through the archives page here, or you can subscribe or purchase the article at newyorker.com, but frankly, that system did not work well for us.

The front page: San Diego-area RE agent Jim Klinge is the author of bubbleinfo.com, quite possibly the best real estate blog anywhere. He got front-page treatment in the LA Times this past week. (Photo by the Times.)

Jim's blog is analytical, it's local, it's big-picture, it's funny, it's honest and Jim has added increasingly effective uses of video to flesh it all out. Those who know the site know what a joy it is.

Because the author is (very) active in the current market and very dedicated to blogging (half his clients started as readers), the site has snapshots of reality that few can capture.

Why blog? The Times asked, Klinge answered:
He knew the market was headed for a crash, he said, one day in July 2005, when he had just come home from a family trip to Disney World and answered the phone. The woman on the line had seen a house that Klinge was selling.

"Up until that point, the only thing buyers wanted to know was how much over list they needed to offer. All of a sudden this lady was being critical of everything, the property, the price. I hung up the phone and told my wife, 'It's over,' " he said.

A few weeks later, he started blogging. His wife, Donna, who helps manage the family brokerage, was nervous. "He was really pushing the envelope with the blog, taking people on, naming names," she said. "I took deep breaths. I didn't know how it would turn out."
It's turned out well for Jim. He's a now a successful realtor with street cred, and really, who else can say that?

It's almost gratuitous that the Times writer labeled Klinge the "Hunter S. Thompson of real estate." (Uh, yeah, without the drugs and guns. C'mon, is any sharp-elbowed writer Hunter?)

Our congrats here to Jim for the new fame.


Looking for open houses? How about one, and only one, for now:

717 Poinsettia
(4br/5ba, 4200 sq. ft.) in the Hill Section, a Saturday-only listing.

This is a very classy newer home on a double corner lot. Instead of views you get gorgeous, lush landscaping unmatched in most of MB (huge plus in our book), and a big, secluded south-facing back yard. Currently at $3.999m after a recent cut. NOTE: Open Sat. only, 2-4pm.

Interested in the rest? Check the Beach Reporter's list of opens for the weekend.

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